Surprisingly, a Half-Truth is a Complete Lie 2-4

It's now Wednesday, meaning three days have passed since my unexpected lip-to-headlight with that ebony black limousine. Within those three days, Yukinoshita had visited everyday without fail, even on that very night of the accident.

As a normal teen who is on the cusp of his youth, this situation should've been a dream come true. Yukinoshita is outrageously beautiful, and she's visiting a rather generic person like me. This was the stuff most self-insert generic mangas were made of to sell to the lowest common denominator. In fact, I could name a bunch of people from my middle school, my dearest "friends" who later abandoned me once it got too tough for them — jackasses, all of them — who'd kill me for saying this:

It's not all that it's made out to be.

"Have you showered, Hikigaya-kun? Your stench is appalling."

Despite her stunning beauty, did I forget to say that her tongue is quite vicious?

I sighed, and buried my face in a pillow.

A few hours later, I got up slowly to find Yukinoshita flipping through another page in her book. A bright light shone through the windows. The clock ticked, the turn of another second in the eternal movement of time, as I laid back down on the bed. Stretching my arms out, squinting as the yellow sunlight slipped in between my fingers.

Has this become my new daily routine?

To sit here and just wait till the end of the day to get to sleep like a retired employee?

This is depressing. At least give me some entertainment to ride out the boredom!

No, wait…

The Rom-Com Gods that control my life won't win this time, I know their plot. I can see with my discerning eye what they're planning to do! They want me to talk to Yukinoshita out of boredom.

Not today buster!

Talking to her is worse than playing real life minesweeper. It's impossible not to get hurt. I won't talk to her, never shall I, so stick it up your asses.

I plopped down my sheets again. The TV noises meshed with the background, the interval sound of Yukinoshita flipping a page, and the consistent tick-tocking of the clock above.

Time won't be waiting for me, not for my death, nor for the end of my boredom.

Hmm...that was weirdly grandiose of me.

Could it be that I, Hikigaya Hachiman, am reverting back to chuuniism?


I have suppressed this revolting feeling of mine. This tempting desire to embarrass myself in hopes for perpetuating a delusion of grandeur!

I have a mouth, and I can't scream! [10]

Can't do it here, too many people.

A book flip was all I need to confirm that she was still there.

Too many people.

The clocked ticked more. It cared not for my plight. Well, no one did really. So I'm not too concerned.

Was there anything new?

Bringing my hand down, I slapped both of my cheeks, trying to keep awake.

If there's even a point to keeping awake.

It's been three hours since I woke up from my nap in the morning, and while it was already approaching the evening hours, Yukinoshita appeared. And for the next hour hours, she hadn't spoken a single word to me, other than commenting about my alleged stench. And while that was a zero-sum game for all parties involved, I have nothing to do. The bed is warm beneath me, and the blankets are covering my legs, but lady sleep still doesn't want to embrace me into her world yet.

Do I repulse you that much?

Usually, in anime, this is the point where something really amazing happens and I'm transported to another world filled with fantasy and the bizarre. Maybe literal, maybe metaphorical. Something magical should happen, something extraordinary.

A lot of the times, the main characters would be whining about how mundane their life is. Perhaps that way they'd lull the reader into thinking expecting something amazing to happen, only to subvert it. But light novel authors aren't that smart. They'd fulfill your expectations to a tee and make you read twelve grueling pages of exposition.


Might as well give it a shot.

"I'm bored…"

"Must you say that every waking moment?" Yukinoshita said. Abrasive as always, her ice cold blue eyes glared at me.

I'll admit that I've been uttering that every ten minutes or so, but grant me this, woman, it was in the lowest possible volume I can muster! Only dogs and bats could hear it!

"Don't I have freedom of speech?"

Saying that, she rolled her eyes, as if I told her that the sun was green.

"That only applies to humans. I don't recall you being a human."

That stung a bit.

I am human. I have feelings too!

"Remind me what you're doing here again, Yukinoshita?" I asked, scratching my cheek, feeling the roughness that came with dry skin.

Ugh, I should wash my face.

"Your mother gave me permission to visit you whenever I like. As part of your rehabilitation, I will be monitoring your progress whenever possible. Do not misunderstand though. You are an experiment. Think of this as a lab rat being observed."

I couldn't help but facepalm while I sagged on my bed, letting out a loose sigh... this again.

"I told you already, didn't I?" I said, glaring at her through open fingers. "I don't need help."

She snapped her book shut, startling me. Her face, for the moment, turned solid. Unmoving, as if forcing herself to lose all her ties to the material world, as if she's gone to the state of perfect harmony. Ever so slightly turning to look at the old men huddling under the only Television set.

Her crystal blue eyes wandered to the TV.

I followed her gaze, overhearing them underneath as my focus readjusted, giving voice to the once mute men.

"Hideyoshi's really being a prick this episode."

Who was Hideyoshi? I looked up and found nothing.

Sunlight from the window blocked the screen white, preventing me to understand what they were talking about.

Not that it'd be a program I'd watch. Old coots have their dramas, while I got o'sizzle cool anime. Yo!

Oh God… I grimaced.

That was terrible. There wasn't even anything good to watch on Wednesday. Following industry logic, Wednesday was the day where reruns of episodes occur.

But, still, I'd kill for some entertainment. Vita-chan, or a light novel, or hell, even a regular one. Persona seemed to be all the rage now. I downloaded it on Vita-chan a week ago but still haven't played.

Another source of my entertainment would be musing about how to kill people in my notebook. Sadly, I don't have it, and the only pieces of paper near me was my homework for the week.

Those old men were prime and close targets too. They took my TV time and I shall take theirs!


Better add them to the list.

My gaze flickered once again to Yukinoshita, curious. She couldn't see the screen, because I couldn't see it. But why was she so intently staring at it?

The sunbeams traced an outline around her... softness of the angles of her face, the glittering blue of her eyes, her lips faint pink, full and gleaming.

I could spend forever admiring her features, like a masterfully sculpted art piece in the museum. Perhaps like a novel, or a film, analyzing every single aspect. Every single thing that created it.

She carried herself like an art piece too, so open to the world, her thoughts aren't hidden. That aspect of hers was prominent from when we first met.

"You know it's rude to stare," she said. "I'd rather not a dead fish look at me. It reminds me of the time I went to the flea market."

She shuddered. "Everything was unkempt, and had a dirty feeling to it." Her examining eyes washed over me for a split second. "Exactly what I'm feeling from you."

Though I wish she'd have more of a filter to her mouth. Regardless, my head turned faster than if it was hit by her car.

"I wasn't staring at you, you were just in the way," I asked. "If looking at someone's general direction is staring, then you should apologize to the three gentlemen over there."

Her eyes curled to a smile.

"I'm watching the television."

"Bull," I said, "You can't see anything from here."

"You're right," she closed her eyes, "I was avoiding looking at you. But somehow you managed to get through me, despite that."

Her words were brutal as yesterday's were.

Gravity pushed my gaze down back at the sheets. As honest as she was, it still stung. If someone said to you that a stab in the back was more painful than a punch to the face, then he must be a tortured individual. Stabs in the back deal with the things you don't know, while punches in the face deal with what you know. Eventually, getting punched in the face gets easier, but boxers usually get a lot of mental damage throughout their career.

With a punch to the face, you can at least block it.

Which is what I needed.

A slight wind blew upon a stack of papers that were left scattered beside my bed. A lone page flew into my lap, its blue bolded title, "Science Homewo—"


I'm not doing this.

Strangely though, my vision was still dragged down onto the piece of paper.

The page had the standard multiple choice lines with a few spaces in between. Five answers for one question. Six questions on this page alone. Dark marks and lines drawn on one, with words circled randomly, and one answer checked.

The rest were completely blank.

Yep, done enough.

Blackness covered my vision as I closed my eyes.

It wasn't worth it.

It was futile. That student-assaulting nut job of a teacher won't be back until Monday next week.

I shook my head. Resolute in my reasoning, I looked around for anything — anything! — that might free me from these shackles of boredom.

Only for my wandering eyes to land upon an innocent piece of paper, its edges blending in neatly with the ivory-colored blankets, with the only thing that indicated it to be as such being the nearly unintelligible mass of shadowy horror known as graphs and multiple choice sloshed on the pristine white—I realized with widened eyes—and most importantly, blank spaces within parchment.

I sucked a breath. Realization crept into my head, subtly manipulating my actions, then my thoughts and feelings.


Looks like I beat you, rom-com gods!

Time to make my own entertainment.

Leaning slightly to the side, I discreetly reached for the mechanical pencil on the desk. I don't know why I'm doing this discreetly, but I rationalized that I must be bored enough to pretend being Indiana Jones [11]. Perhaps that was it, but I didn't care either way.

Tip touched paper, and my hand waltzed with the pencil in its hold. Dark lines appeared once more on the once blank spaces. But this time it wasn't to find an answer, it was to form an image.

First, doodles of animals. Can't get wrong with that right?

There was little to understand why animals first. I'm pretty confident in drawing them. Often, during art classes, I'd paint a scene from a documentary that stuck to my mind.

Penguins. The sharp, yet soft incline of the dark wings. Their slightly curved beaks and stout, blubbery but strong upper bodies, designed for swimming through the harsh waters of arctic.

When I was a kid I had always been fascinated by them.

I drew several of them together, huddling, and sprinkled in lines as if they were hiding from a great wind, or the wrath of some god too lazy to actually draw in the blizzard. Depends on which perspective you view it from.

I view it on my own.

But yes, lots of them. Their strong beaks were raised above, defiance against the forces of wind and snow. They could do this because they had the power of numbers.

They were strong together. Like any other social animal. Yet unlike humans or any of the animals capable of socializing, they never protected each other. When the narrator compared them to human civilization, I thought of soldiers or policemen. They protect other humans irrespective of immediate familial relation. Or so they should.

I watched one video where a baby penguin was being pecked by predator birds, yet the penguins around it were just watching, unwilling to help. I asked why this was so, and they just said, "It's because they're animals."

Of course a few days later I asked for help, but none of the teachers came to my aid, or even if they did, they never gave any concrete or meaningful advice. Sometimes I wondered if we really evolved from our animalism.

"Your penguins are too amateurishly drawn, Hikigaya-kun," Yukinoshita spoke from next to me, "Perhaps add more detail and less impressionism to your drawings."

I scrambled to create some distance between us.

You're too close! Too close!

Composing myself, I pointed at the paper with my mechanical pencil.

"It's a blizzard, see? It's supposed to be hazy, you're looking at them while wind and snow howl past you."

"Is that what those lines where? Perhaps you should practice drawing lines instead, Hikigaya-kun."

I ignored her jibe. I was doing this to ignore her damn it.

"You can ignore what I say but you can't ignore what you created."

Deep breaths. Deep breaths.

My pencil dipped on the white field.

Bears. The drawing on this was a little trickier to do. The fur needed to have volume, thickness, but at the same time hiding what truly is behind those strands of fiber. Beneath that fur…

"You drew the legs backwards," commented Yukinoshita.

I gritted my teeth. Ignoring her, I proceeded once more to monologue.

...lied a truly fascinating anatomy. Their faces were like a cone. Flat on the eyes, but a long dog's snout extending with rows of teeth powerful enough to break bone.

As I grew older, while my fascination with penguins began to fade, I started getting interested in bears.

After all, they were big and strong like gorillas, but have a better reputation than them. You wouldn't want to be called a gorilla, but being called a bear means you're cute and cuddly and strong.

Strong, thick arms like tree trunks, to carry the weight of the several hundred kilograms of muscle and fat, and still manage to run 40 km/h at top speed.

Plus, they protect their own, even if they grow hungry. When the incident with Komachi happened, I imagined myself to be the bear, hungry but still protecting my own.

I finished with a flourish of the dark beady eyes.

"This bear is better drawn than your penguins. Have you practiced a lot, Hikikuma-kun?" she said.

"Please don't call me as if I'm a bear in hibernation. It's spring," I replied. Inwardly, I was laughing.

"How lazy of you to keep hibernating despite it being spring."

I paused for a moment

"Clearly, I'm drawing, not hibernating. Perhaps you need an appointment to the oculist?" I said, a bit more harshly than I intended.

"You should draw a feline, Hikigaya-kun," she said as if she did not hear my last sentence.

Don't you ignore me, you demon superwoman!

But then, I had this sudden urge to draw Kamakura. Something more familiar, closer to home from all those wild animals. I puffed my version out a bit. His snow white hair poofed and prickled out, and tail swished in the air. He grew fatter, but cuter. While his eyes glistened in the shading to imitate sunlight basking down upon him.

It's great and all, but…

What was that?

Yukinoshita grabbed the paper out of my hands. Her eyes sparkled. The shadow of her slender hand tracing Kamakura.

"This cat is drawn magnificently, Hikigaya-kun, as expected," she said, seemingly lost in her imagination.

"What do you mean 'as expected'? You had no input in its creation! Don't talk as if everything was under your machinations!" I shouted, grabbing the paper. My hand was stopped midway as she put up resistance. Still, her face had a strange quality to it, almost as if she was walking in a fantasy.

"Hikigaya-kun, I strongly urge you to relinquish your hold on..." she clawed my hands, trying to pry them open. "...that."

She was clearly in Lunacia. I had no idea a cat would have this much effect on her.

"I still need this! I'll give it to you after it gets checked by Sensei! Look at what you're doing to the picture, you're ruining it!"

I grabbed her hand and tried to open her palm. Her hand was soft, like a feather brushing against my finger. She pulled my wrist and forced it to bend. I grunted in pain.

She shook her head and let go.

What's with this crazy woman?

We sat in silence as I smooth out the now crumpled paper. The portraits were still there, just a bit smudged out.

A few beats later.

"None of this gets out of this room."


Note to self, never show her Kamakura.

Looking back at the drawing, I wasn't surprised at how clearly I remember his features. There was a time where I wanted to draw after watching Sai from Naruto make his drawings come alive. [12] I had a variety of muses. Lamps, carpets, other paintings. I even had people as muses, though I sat on a bench at the park under the shade of a tree. They didn't know I was drawing them, or perhaps they did, but still wanted to be drawn.

I wonder if I could still draw them, by memory.

They say if you can remember someone clearly, it must mean that you loved them dearly. I should be able to remember them enough to draw them, I bet. Often, I had family members as muses.

I took a memory of an early morning in the Hikigaya household. A snapshot of what we go through in our daily rituals.

My father, as he sipped his morning cup of coffee while reading the news. His glasses that fell down slightly on his nose, while his tired eyes were stuck reading the same page for several minutes.

My mother, whose quiet humming, decorated the whistling of boiling teapots in the morning. Where the quiet morning light splashed on her face like flowers underneath a sunrise.

Or Komachi, with an opened mouth from a yawn, her eyes still sleepy as she rubbed them awake. A blanket covering her shoulders as she walked towards the table, huddling to keep warm from the cold spring morning.

I felt a tapping on my shoulder.

Yukinoshita held her hand out. "May I?"

I glanced at her with narrowed eyes in suspicion. If she so much crumples this… I was handing her my family after all. Should I?

Ultimately, I gave it to her, after she kept holding out her hand like a child pining for candy.


She held up to her eyes, often changing perspectives and moving it around. The way she focused her eyes on the illustration popped a cork in my head, the fizziness rushing into it. I was ecstatic that someone was giving my work a proper look. I never had someone outside my own family do that.

"You're a very good artist," she finally said.

That made me giddy.

Blushing, I held my arm and scratched my cheeks. "Nah, I'm a second-rate artist. I draw pretty much for myself so I don't know how it compares to others."

She gave the assignment-turned-illustration paper back to me. "Frankly speaking, you're still rough around the edges. But your work is honestly amazing for an amateur."


Seems that Yukinoshita can be nice.

I yawned, stretching my fingers. The piece was laid in front of me. On the page were sketches of my family members, all in various forms of morning disarray. I hadn't realized that I was filling in the blanks with them, but I did enjoy how cutely Komachi came out.

Komachi, it seems, is cute whenever, and wherever seen.


Scanning the page, and specifically Komachi's image, reminded me that I still had one more blank space left. In what supposed to be the student's own notes or whatever he uses to complete the problem, I drew out what has been bugging me.

The fact that I can't recall her features well anymore.

I'm sure that I'll get it by instinct.

In my head all that I could think was to draw a waifu. Waifu. Yes, the head was perfect. All I need to do now was—

"You've captured my likeness well," she spoke up.

Air passed my throat and out, and back in again.

I clutched the shirt over my heart, "Gah! Don't scare me like that. You'll give me a heart attack! "

"My!" she covered her smile with a hand, "I didn't know you were both weak-willed and weak of heart."

"Anyone would have a heart attack if someone snuck up to them..." I grumbled. "And yes, I am the weakest willed of them all." I joked.

She smiled. Smugly so. It pissed me off.

"Actually, I'm not so weak-willed."

"A person who changes their word often is considered a sign of lack of will," she argued.

"No, what I said was in jest," I said.

She flicked a stray lock of hair behind her.

"I can remember you failing to defend yourself yesterday, stuttering and failing to form syllables in any known human language." The subject was shifted to what happened two days ago, to an argument that I was too surprised and unprepared for. In spite of what happened yesterday, I was prepared for this.

You see, with normies, whenever they lose an argument they lose their sleep in favor of thinking of ways they should've defended. I am above that. I think of the ways to defend my argument, and the ways that I could come back in the future.

My own experiences molded me. You see, when you become the butt of a joke, you can expect it to happen several times in the future. As such, to defend against it, one must pre-prepare a comeback so meticulously planned that you just knew that person lost sleep because of it.

Thus, it was time for my attack.

"Really," I raised an eyebrow, "I thought you understood that."

"As if I would understand—"

I held a hand up. She shut herself up but the look in her eyes told me that she wanted an explanation.

"I mean, a normal human would've introduced themselves…" I prefaced my argument with a feint. Will she take it?

She interrupted.

"I did, get to the point."


I smiled, squinting. She grimaced, looking beyond my face.

"In a normal fashion." I was enjoying the look of confusion on her face, as if she didn't know what I was talking about. "No chuuni shenanigans like jumping off a window to get down." Her big blue eyes widened and once more I was struck with how cute she actually is without her constant look of superiority.

She was indeed a beautiful girl, the same one I met that night.

Despite that, I couldn't let up my attack.

"I don't know how you did it, but I sure as hell know that the police would be asking me, and a lot of people, questions if they find a dead body splattered on the ground like that."

"I don't see how my understanding of your complete gibberish would correlate to my j-jumping off the window," she was fuming, red in the face.

I grinned.

I suppose that someone recalling what you did in a deadpan voice makes it sound that you did something stupid. Add in him grinning and you get double the damage. It was brutal, and she knew it, with her eyes closing and waiting for inevitability.

It almost made me pity her.


No mercy.

"Because a normal human wouldn't have jumped off a window in the first place."

She sucked on her breath and glared at me.

I could feel her hatred boring into me with those eyes. In normal circumstances, I would've bowed out and left the clearly hostile lady in front of me. However, while this was a normal circumstance, our first meeting was anything but normal.

No matter whether meeting at a car crash or near a hospital window, it was anything but normal.

And that really just takes away all the pretenses, you know?

Besides, I was already in a hospital. The emergency room was close by.

A few moments passed. I sat there on my hospital bed, basking in the glory of outwitting a human of the female gender. I was happy, no, I was ecstatic. It meant that I was rising up to the normie ranks.

See ya fags.

I'm a normie now.

Suddenly, she spoke, breaking me out of me reverie. Sad. It was a fun reverie too.

"I suppose that you have a translation for that gibberish too?"

"Huh?" I was completely out of my reverie now. Looking at her, I asked, "Why do you ask?"

"Because I obviously didn't understand what you said," she said haughtily. "I suppose that makes me a normal human then? Either way, what have you said? In normal Japanese, please."

Literally what.

This woman...

You don't just ask that. I can't explain it, but normal people don't fall into an open trap like that. They just don't.

I wanted to explain that to her but her eyes told me that she's expecting the answer to come out of my mouth, and only the answer. I shut my mouth before I said the wrong thing.

Sighing, "I already told you the translation."

"Oh, and what's that."

"You don't know how I lived my life, so you can't force those beliefs you have on me."

Silence reigned in. I could see her wanting to say something, but ultimately stopping herself from saying it. It was really telling when someone was doing that. Their eyes would dart around, trying absorb information that would trigger a memory, or a thought, experienced in a similar situation. When they come up blank they just stare at you for a few moments of intense concentration. Then stop, and breath in.

She was at the staring at me stage. Those blue pools gazed at me, and I wondered what she wanted to say.

Then the breathing in stage. She calmed herself, resigning to the fact she couldn't say anything. Crossing her legs, she spoke once more.

"I see."

And with that, silence.

I was struck at how much time it took her to process it.

Why she couldn't do the process quicker might be due to the fact she never had this particular set of circumstances happen to her.

I don't know what circumstances.

I don't know what it had got to do with me.

But, once again I was given a view something no man should ever see in reality.

The fabled ZR.

I wondered if I was in a coma and this was all a dream.

I realized that it would make for a terrible plot-twist when I wake up.

"Why are you here, exactly?"

I asked once more.

She didn't answer, instead, she opened her book and began to read.

"I must've pissed you off right? If you're ignoring me instead of entertaining me to, as I quote, "As part of your rehabilitation, I will be monitoring your progress whenever possible."

"I never said that I had to interact with you. " She set down her book. "I said do not misunderstand my intent."

"I'm an experiment, aren't I? You not interacting and seeing what makes me tick is deviant to the proper scientific process."

"If I recall correctly, observation is part of the process. I am indeed still doing an experiment."

"You seem to be failing at it."

"It is merely part of the preliminaries."

"This was the second time you almost gave me a heart attack, you know that right?" I pointed out jokingly. "You're this close to committing homicide. And ending your experiment prematurely."

"I would never!"

Never what? Kill someone or end your experiment prematurely?

She looked at me like I was a bug and that a bug's life was insignificant as its squealing. Or that's what I got from her gaze. If you peel the scorn and hatred away first.

She sighed and said, "The law does not include death by natural causes as homicide, Hikigaya-kun. Even a basic reading of the laws that govern our land would be beneficial for one living in it. In fact, they might consider you as a corpse that already died before it stopped moving."

Ah. Figures.

"What makes you say that?"

"Are you blind, Hikizombie-kun? Do you avert your own reflection in the mirror?"

I'm not that repulsive to myself!

"I just had an accident… " I muttered. A cry for help, or a cry to say I surrender and I'm beaten. It was either or.

She hummed. She glanced at me, then averted her gaze once more. Her face contorted, horror was on her eyes. She shivered in fright.

She spoke, and with that, established herself to be cruel to POW.

"Even then, from your constant deathly gaze, I assume that they'll write you off as a strange aeon that death may die from."

That was a so out of ways reference I almost thought that I was making it!

"Why are you quoting Cthulhu?" I asked, staring at her.

The only people who would do that would be either a sage, or a chuuni pretending to be a sage. To me, this over-dramatic tendencies of hers was a sign of her noblesse oblige. The textbook definition of a chuuni would be one who had this delusion of grandeur clouding their eyes. She has all the reasons not to have that delusion, yet she's here, spouting lines from a book.

This conflicts with what I thought of her.

I.e not a chuuni.

"I mean, I'm much of a Cthulhu fan as the next guy, but I don't think I just spout lines from the book randomly like that."

She stared back. This time her gaze was different. A bit more fonder, as if gazing back to an old friend.

She narrowed her eyes.

Or maybe I was delusional.

The latter was more likely.

Perhaps if I worded that question as to not sound redundant, I would've been spared her analytic yet ambivalent gaze.

Either way, I noticed her hand bring up a fairly large tome from...where exactly?

Sometimes chuuni-me believed in women having access to spaces within spaces that they hide all their hidden paraphernalia in.

Now I always believed in it.

"I happened upon a recommendation from a person I care for. Though I find his tastes to be a bit obscure, Lovecraft had been a wonderful read," she said, waving the book in the air.

A stylized cat was on the cover, which I'm pretty sure was hiding the true cover. The book itself was pretty thin, like a notebook.

Strange. Kinda like Lovecraft. Chuuni-me used to love that crap. It was hard to read, sometimes I thought that Lovecraft wrote with inducing in people to have headaches in mind, so I always took time to read a story of his.

They're not novels. At least by word count. According to the internet, a novel is over 50 thousand words long.

His stories were only a few pages long, but Lovecraft packed in words into those paragraphs like a can of sardines, which is why it felt like you were reading a novel with how slow everything was.

"Although, I wasn't exactly enthused by his tendency to over-word his sentences."

Ah, the irony.

Still, did she start at everyone's starting point? That usually turns off most people. It's a testament to her ability to read through that though and still enjoy it. It took me three tries before getting it.

"Did you start at Call of Cthulhu?" I asked.

To newbies, The Call of Cthulhu was hell to read through. And it was the first thing people recommend you to read when you wanted to get into Lovecraft. As if the hard to read through text would keep the normies away.

I don't know if someone like Yukinoshita was a normie or not. What I do know is that Yukinoshita never appeared normal to me.

"I didn't," she said, "I read the Dunwich Horror first. Who would read Call of Cthulhu for their first impression of Lovecraft?"

"I did read Call of Cthulhu first. I didn't enjoy it," I said. "Eventually I did in the end, but I wouldn't recommend it to newcomers frankly speaking. The fans often say to read it, but it just feels like a trial by fire instead of an actual recommendation."

"Of course you wouldn't enjoy it," she said matter-of-factly. "Your tastes are suited for trash."

"Oi! My tastes aren't trash. They're the epitome of culture."

"A person whom was trained to find trash more delicious than fine cuisine is always going to defend that his tastes aren't trash."

"You're reading something that I've read! Would that mean that your tastes are trash too?" I smirked.

She smirked back.

"Trash eaters will eventually enjoy fine cuisine, but fine diners will never enjoy trash."

Damn. Fuck this bitch.

"—right, anyway," I started again, after a spell of silence befell us for a moment.

Despite her bitchiness, I want to continue this conversation. Perhaps, just to sate my boredom. "There's a lot of things I enjoyed from his works, mostly on how dreamlike they are—."

"You should enjoy his Dreamcycle Series, then," she interrupted. There was a twinge of fire in her voice.

"Ah—his Dreamcycle Series was my favorite. I always dreamed of riding a horse down the roads of Celephais."

"The concept of a world of dreams is intriguing, I'll admit," Yukinoshita walked towards the window, the yellow dripping sun showering light upon her, "as an escape from reality. King Kuranes hated reality so much that he dreamed of being whisked away to the halls of Celephais."

"It's implied that he'd died," I pointed out.

"Just like all who dream but never do."

Even in a hospital, the lights have to dim eventually.

In this case, though, they had dimmed too much. With only the bright, yellow light coming from the nurse's station every odd room, walking through the dark hallways were only half a hassle. The silvery full moon outside barely illuminated the white floors, the walls, and the door numbers.

'1404' [13]

Not that.

A little farther down the hall, I think.

Better check.

Sliding open the door as quietly as I can, I peered through the room. A bluish light emanated from the wall beside me. In front of it, was a chair, and an old man who seemed to be falling asleep. His eyes were sealed shut.

Must be something boring. I bet my 300 yen allowance that he was watching a silent film, probably something as boring as Nosferatu. Or any of the 'classics' that most praise to be from the film-making golden age, while condemning any film made today. Can't really say anything about it myself, I'm not a film guy. All I know is that people from those times, would probably kill to have the technology we have now.

Sadly, he didn't seem familiar to me, so with what I assume to be a cat's silence, I closed the door…

Or I would've closed the door, if it wasn't for him suddenly speaking out.

"You, come here."

Was he talking to me? That was a possibility, but I doubt his old ears would've heard the door opening, or sliding, which was even more silent. He's probably speaking out into the air, a memory played in front of him, of something similar to what he did years ago. Clarity left his mind, as he aged, and all that was left was instinct.

I nodded. I had sufficient justification to not heed his words. With that, I turned around and started walking away.

Then, with an even louder voice, he called out once more, "You, come here."

Old man, I pity you, really... but sadly, I'm not your grandchild.

As I walked away, feeling faux pity for an old man who seemed to have lost his bearings, the door I left suddenly slid open. The subsequent thud was as loud as a brick being dropped into a tomb. It had also probably woken up some of the people from other rooms.

"Didn't your parents tell you it's rude to ignore a helpless old man in need?" came a voice behind me, "Where's your integrity."

"My parents also told me not to talk to strangers," I muttered under my voice, though quietly as I didn't want him to hear and call me out for my 'lip'. I slowly, and in the most frustrating manner I can, just to prolong his suffering, turned around.

"What was that?"

Or right, he was apparently able to hear the sliding door open.

Does this man have super-hearing or something? Was this is job in the war? Did he survive the Americans by looking for English words in a sentence amidst the jungles of a far away island somewhere?


I smiled.

"What can I do for you, Ojii-san?" I strained, trying to sound polite. I really did try. However, I couldn't keep the scathing tone in my voice, and I found myself smiling like a loon, which, as I was told often, made me look like a loon. Mothers often tell their children to get away from loons right? I sincerely hoped that deep within his heart, that old and withered heart, he'd somehow remember those words that his mother gave him and give me peace.

"You seem to have manners after all, hmph," he grumbled without manners, "kids these days."

I felt an eye twitch.

"I was wondering if you could get me to the ATMs at the floor below," he said, "surely a strapping young'un like you would be willing to help an old man get his money, right?"

Trying to guilt trip me, eh? Unlucky of you old man, you're too late in applying that tactic against me, for I am immune. Komachi has thrice the power level you have.

"I'm sorry," I said, with a placating voice that I knew wasn't placating at best, and condescending at worst, "it's very late, Ojii-san, I'm sure you can wait till the morning?"

"Son, my price is racking up, real high. If I don't pay all of these by tomorrow, I'd be sent to a different hospital. Do you know how many hospitals serve Takoyaki on fridays? Do you?"

As he said that, he raised an open hand. Then he closed it. "Nada. Zilch. Zero." He waved the same hand around, as if performing a magic trick, and the trick was making something appear from thin air. Except by the looks he was a horrible magician.

"Why can't you do it yourself?" I rebutted.

Seriously, with how fast he got to the door, he'd be perfectly fine with going to the elevator. Or teleporting to it.

Why would he need a person to help him get to the elevator?

"I'm blind."

Opening his eyes for the first time, I saw merely a clouded gaze looking back at me. It was eerie. His eyes seemed to look both at me and straight through me simultaneously. Until today, I'd never met an actual blind person. I had only seen them during homeroom when the teacher talked about random school topics and showed the class videos on whatever that topic was.

Oh. I see.

That certainly deflated me quite a bit. Now, I felt compelled to help the old man. I don't know why, but I guess it has something to do with my inherent empathy for others that I haven't quite gotten rid of yet. I could've said that he'd be better to ask for a nurse rather than relying on someone he's just met, but well… damn my bleeding heart.

Come to think of it, aren't there buzzers on the side of the bed to ring to get the nurses to help you? Pretty weird that he's that desperate to ask someone he couldn't see.

"Alright, I'll help," I said, with finality. Even when I saw his grin stretch from cheek to cheek, as if he'd already done this before with another strapping young'un like me, I didn't leave him.

I tapped the crutch under my arm on the floor lightly. "Hear that?" I said. "Follow that, and don't worry about bumping into things. I'll tell you if there's something there."

And I lead him to the mystical yellow glow of the nurse's station.

My footsteps thumped lightly on the marbled floors. My slippers squeaked with each step, and the representative of senility behind me had a pleasant expression on his face. I frowned. I couldn't hear him other than the sound of his quiet laughter echoing the halls.

You don't have to rub it in, old man.


"Don't sigh too much, boy," the old man said, "they'll make you age faster."

"Like you would know anything about that," I muttered.

"Of course I do, I'm an old man!" he exclaimed. Then he had a guttural laugh, but stopped when he found that he was the only one laughing. He sighed, still with closed eyes, and drew an expecting frown on his face.

"Did you want me to laugh?"

"No, well, I was expecting you to," he said, "never had someone not laugh at that, even awkwardly."

"Sorry," I apologized, "Ha... ha ha ha."

"Save it," he commanded, "the fun's all gone when the laughter is given by cue, rather than by free will."

We had arrived at the elevator. The steel gates reflected moonlight, gleaming in borrowed light, while the glowing red numbers changed as the elevator rose up to our floor… and passed that.

Huh, there must be someone using the elevator.

Whatever. I waited for it to go down to our floor. When it did, it opened with a cheery 'ting' and the two gates opened before us automatically. Before us, a brightly lit enclosed space, filled with all the colors of the rainbow. White, just like the the hallway before us.

Pushing the old man in, the enclosed space suddenly didn't feel as enclosed any more. Perhaps it was the mirrors, or perhaps it was the increased elevator size for accommodating entire beds. Whatever the case was, I was glad that I wouldn't be feeling cramped in this space with some old man. Say what you might, but that feeling was as uncomfortable as wearing a ball and chain around your neck.

"Say," the old man started, "you wouldn't know one Hikigaya Hachiman, would you?"

What's with people and knowing my name without my knowledge? Did I get famous overnight for trying to save that dog? Did someone video me and is a girl going to be awestruck by my heroics and basically force me into their friend group, and I'd have to follow their every whim with only the logic that it was what I wanted? [14]


That's too far fetched. Even for me.

Still, would be fun if all those events happened exactly as I had laid it out. Maybe in another universe, where I didn't fuck up all the time.

Who am I kidding, I'd probably fuck up pretty much every universe. There's probably a universal constant named after me, by some sick god of misfortune that wears ribbons and frilly dresses, and likes to twirl around all the time. [15]

The Hachiman Variable. Or something like that.

"Well, speak up boy."

"You're talking to him."

"Ah, I see. I thought you'd sound a little more enthusiastic."

"It's late at night, I'd be surprised if I was enthusiastic to begin with."

"Are you certain?" he asked surprised, though it doesn't show on his face other than a slight raising of eyebrows.

My silence was answer enough for him.

He pointed at his eyes "You don't know with these eyes. Day and night seem to blend together. It's all the same for me, darkness."

"Wouldn't it be night all day then for you?" I asked.

"I'd not say. If I'm awake it's morning, if I'm asleep it's night. That's how I differentiate," he shrugged.

"I see," I said. "You must've had a strict sleeping pattern."

"I used to. Now I'm here I really don't have a reason to," he said. "My family doesn't visit."

The elevator rang a few times as we reached the ground floor. We weren't high up, just four floors above ground floor.

The silence bugged me out though, like it wasn't supposed to be there. I couldn't quite place it. Inflicted with the urge to speak, I blurted out the first thing that came to my mind.

"How do you know my name?"

He raised an eyebrow. "You're whom Yuuna-chan talks about lately."

"Huh, you know her?"

"She's been in this hospital longer than I have. The only people who don't know who she is are people in comas."

I was incredulous. I didn't expect her claims to be true. But if they were…

"Do you happen to know why she's always around? I mean, wouldn't the staff figure out that there's a kid walking around the hospital?"

He laughed. No, he guffawed. As if I told him the funniest joke in all existence.

Jeez, you'd make a horrible teacher.

"Kid, she's the daughter of the one who owns the hospital!"

The door opened. But we stayed there for a few more moments, with the only sound being the laughs coming off his mouth.

"Oh," I said, finally.

I walked out, tapping my crutches every once in a while. The first floor was dimly lit as the floor we came from. But I could still recognize the letters on the sign in front of us.

'Wet floor' it said.

Come to think of it, it's the first time I've been to this floor. I didn't know the layout of this place. I was leading a blind man while I was essentially blind myself.

Oh shit—

A nurse appeared before me, walking to the other side of the reception hall.

"Wait!" I called out.

She turned and raised an eyebrow. "What do you need, umm...?"

"Hikigaya Hachiman." She put up a smile as soon as my name left my lips.

"Ah, Hikigaya-san. W-what is it that do you need?" Ah, she must be new.

"Can you lead me to the ATM machines?" I requested.

"Sure thing!" she chirped. "Watch your step. We just finished cleaning this area."

She led us to the ATM machine. There were three of them lined up in a row, all from various banks. The one in the middle was lit in the dim lighting turned the bright red into dark maroon, and the big, blocky white text grey. A lamp shone with yellow light decorated in pale opaque, glass right above it.

I turned to the old man.

"Well, go on."

"You don't need to tell me, you brat."

He walked to the machines, his gait confident and sure. Pumped out chest and relaxed but firm posture, he looked several years younger. Which probably isn't much.

He reached out. In his other hand was a credit card. Green colored.

Into thin air.

His hand moved as if pressing buttons, but the ATMs on his sides remained unchanged, showing the same screen of a bank I saw father use.

What was he doing…?

"Oji-san? The machine is next to you?" I phrased it as a question, more to myself than to him.

"Hikigaya-san!" I heard the nurse call out.

He grinned at me, and moved a few paces to the left. His card, a green card, slid into the red machine. But it remained unchanged.

Frustrated, I lumbered towards him. Meeting his gaze, but his not meeting mine, I said, "Oji-san!"

"What? Can't you see I'm working here, Komotsu-kun?" he addressed the machine, going back to pressing buttons that didn't change the screen.

Who's Komotsu?

"Hikigaya-san! Who are you talking to?" the nurse asked me.

I followed his hand.

His fingers weren't pressing the keypad.

Instead, it was flowing in and out of solid steel.


My gaze flickered to her.

"What? Can't you see…?" I turned back to find the old man gone. In its stead, there was naught but a white butterfly, dancing in the air in front of the screen. I scanned the area, turning my head around, trying to find the old man.

"See what?" The nurse's confused smile only aggravated me. If she couldn't see the person, then she could see the butterfly right? This is a hospital! Insects shouldn't be able to get in.

The butterfly was still there, floating in the air, detachedly. It never wavered from its position and kept straight toward the screen, as if it were the one trying to manage it and not the previously mentioned old man. Then it floated away, passing through the still oblivious nurse's eyes.

"Nevermind." Walking away, the shuffles of the nurse's steps relayed to me that she was probably going to her post, probably going to talk about that weirdo kid she had to guide to the ATM, and probably not talk about that white butterfly that followed me back to the elevator.

The butterfly's eyes stared back at me when I glanced at it, the flaps of its wings echoing in the silent lift.


Omake by The Mighty Zingy

"Because, your first kiss isn't what I wanted it to be. A car is not something you should share something that special with. I'm here to do it properly, seeing as you're incapable of that."

I froze at her words. She… she's what? G-g-gonna k-k-k-k-kiss me?

Her lips met my own and I instantly broke from my trance.

"T-This is the second time you've almost gave me a heart attack, you know that right, Yukinoshita?" I pointed out. "You're this close to committing homicide."

Omake by RalphZiggy

"Just what sort of 'experiment' do you imagine you're performing with me, Yukinoshita?"

Large saphhire eyes regarded me, their blinking moved long curled lashes as she considered her reply.

"To put things in simple terms for your simple mind, it is a compatibility study, Hikigaya-kun."

"Not that I'd care how you judge me… but with what am I supposed to be compatible or incompatible?"

"With me, of course."

"… what? … "

Yukinoshita was becoming irritated.

"So you really remember nothing of the night before your accident. None of the events of that time left any impression on you whatsoever."

She did not ask, but stated two things as facts that were very bothersome to her. The night before? It was the night before my first day of school, but wouldn't I be sleeping that night? What was notable? My mind was blank.

Yukinoshita made a long sigh, reached into her bag, extracted and tossed a long thin plastic white stick onto the bedding over my chest. There were two pink lines in a little window at one end.

"Congratulations, Dad."

Author's Note:

I'm very, very sorry. I'd like to explain myself but if you don't want to read it you can skip to the very end. That's where the TL;DR is.

But first, credits to the people who managed to stick with this and drive me to write: The Mighty Zingy, The Quotable Patella, you guys really deserve those adjectives on your names. Mighty, because you've managed to stick with my disastrous writing process; Quotable, because you make some parts shine.

As for the newest person I'll credit, SouBU for finalizing and giving your thoughts. I was apprehensive in posting this part, but thanks to all of you guys I can put it out.

As for the explanation. It's my last year in middle school and the past three months have been hectic. A lot of my time was spent studying for the exams that seem to come up whenever we finished one, projects that were given only a month's time to complete, and a lot of preparation for entering a highschool. I did enter a highschool, which I'm thankful for.

TL;DR: I am very, very sorry I was late.

Also, if you find it confusing that there's a new part, that's just the editing phase. This is the new chapter, so sorry for that to.

With love, Jin.